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She'd resist shopping long enough for Broadway shows

She tried to lure fashion giants to the Tampa Bay area.

By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published September 12, 2007

Anne Tomlin loved to shop at high end stores so much that when she moved from New York to Clearwater, she wrote letters to Lord and Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman suggesting they were missing a viable market in Tampa Bay.

CLEARWATER - The bustle of big cities just clicked with Anne Tomlin.

She shopped constantly at sophisticated New York City stores, stocking her closet with pursues, shoes and clothes. She attended three Broadway plays each year. And on trips to Atlantic City, she eschewed gambling to spend time in shops.

When she retired and moved to Clearwater in the mid 1990s, something disturbed her: the lack of fashion.

So Anne Tomlin wrote to the corporate offices of Lord and Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman. They were missing a boatload of business in the area, she told them.

"They actually wrote back," said her husband, Paul Tomlin. "That was just her personality."

Anne died Saturday at age 70 after four years with ovarian cancer.

She grew up in Virginia and earned a master's degree from Gallaudet University, a Washington, D.C., college that specializes in education for the deaf.

Anne wasn't deaf, but she hungered to learn new and interesting things. She would tease Paul by speaking quickly in sign language, which he never learned.

She taught kindergarten at the New York School for the Deaf, and later taught in public schools. Eventually, the couple and their son, Brent, moved to the New York suburbs. Anne was fine with the move, Paul said - there were good shopping districts nearby.

Life wasn't perfect. Brent, their only child, was diabetic. He died at age 24.

"We were both devastated," Paul said. "We took it one day at a time. She was stronger than I was."

That year, they moved to Clearwater for a fresh start. Anne joined the local chapter of the Democratic Women's Club. She hosted Christmas and New Year's parties and dined out in Tampa at the Palm and P.F. Chang's.

A loyal sports fan, she traveled to Atlanta to see the summer Olympics. She volunteered for the Special Olympics, and in 2001, hosted carnival games for children outside Raymond James Stadium before the Super Bowl.

"She was the person who couldn't sit down and stay in the house," Paul said. "She was constantly on the go."

It didn't mean she was impatient. Four years ago, she landed season tickets to the Washington Redskins, her favorite team. She was overjoyed.

She had been on the waiting list for 30 years.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or 727 893-8857.


Anne Tomlin

Born: Sept. 6, 1937.

Died: Sept. 8, 2007.

Survivors: husband, Paul, mother, Beatrice Ritchie. Predeceased by a son, Brent.

Services: 3 p.m. Sept. 22, Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. Donations to the Ovarian Cancer National Institute and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home.

[Last modified September 11, 2007, 22:38:29]

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